Chapter 26 The Rise of Towns Words, Terms and People to Know

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Chapter 26 The Rise of Towns Words, Terms and People to Know

  • Wares
  • Master
  • Burg
  • Journeyman
  • Charters
  • Guild
  • Fairs
  • Burghers
  • Communes
  • Dante’s Divine Comedy
  • Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

Chapter 26

  • Rise of Trade and Towns
  • 500 A.D.—1400 A.D.
  • Section one: discusses how the growth of trade led to the rise of towns in the Middle Ages, focusing on Venice and Flanders.

Why The Crusades Matter (as a graphic organizer!)

  • Turks gain control of Palestine (the Holy Land) and threaten Constantinople. Why those guys!!!! WE oughta….
  • And they DO …as the emperor asks the Pope for help. Urban II says “You BET YA!”
  • Pope Urban asks European lords- and everyone else-to free the Holy Lands from the Turks. Offering freedom from church taxes and a free ticket to heaven the people begin to move!
  • Thousands of Europeans (many of them serfs) take up the cause and are exposed to new areas, ideas, and commodities- sparking a new interest in trade and town life. AND…
  • BOOM! The Feudal
  • order starts to unravel
  • and Europe emerges
  • from the Dark Ages.

The Revival of Trade

  • Italian ships brought goods back from Asia and Venice prospers.
  • Viking ships brought Asian goods to northern Europe.
  • The Hanseatic League set up trading posts.
  • Flanders became a meeting center of different trade routes. The next thing you know…
  • The Crusades stimulated trade.
  • Revival of Trade
  • BOOM! You’ve got…
  • Well,…at least, places to buy things and things to buy-- Which means you need money!
  • Three functions of money
  • 1. Money serves as a convenient medium of exchange. People can trade money for goods and services
  • 2. Money serves as a measure of value
  • 3. Money serves a s store of value—which means that people can hold their wealth in the form of money until they are ready to use it.

Medieval Demographics

  • The population levels of Europe during the Middle Ages can be roughly categorized:
  • 400-1000: stable at a low level.
  • 1000-1250: population boom and expansion. (end of foreign invasion and good weather)

Medieval Demographics

  • 1250-1350: stable at very high level.
  • 1350-1420 steep decline
  • 1420-1470: stable at a low level
  • 1470-onward: slow expansion gaining momentum in the early 16th century.

Town or City?

  • Technically speaking, during the middle ages the difference was not one of size but rather one of- did a bishop have his seat there? A City had a bishop and a cathedral with its dependent population.
  • A “town” was an urban center without a bishop.
  • 1170 Archbishop Thomas Becket
  • was murdered in the Cathedral
  • Dalton. A town or a city?
  • Using the definitions here—a town!

What makes a place a "town"?

  • Some scholars say that to have a town you need a market, a charter (a legal document granting rights or privileges) and a jury of 12. Others will say that you need burghers and a mayor instead of a reeve (English official elected annually by the serfs to supervise lands for a lord a reeve looked after the affairs in the medieval village), and defenses, such as a town wall.
  • Dalton. A town?
  • Using the definitions here— probably not as it lacks a wall--or defenses.

What makes a place a "town"?

  • Some elements shared by many medieval towns (UN) in (U.S.)England (other areas had different elements in common):
  • Defenses—most medieval cities are walled & have Street grid
  • Markets and fairs
  • Mint (where you make coins)
  • A Charter from the king, allowing a market or fair
  • Religious organization (cathedral, monastery, churches…)
  • Population (you couldn’t have a town with 20 people)
  • Judicial Center (law court)
  • Housing
  • Shops and production of goods (craft people organized into guilds) defines a town as “a place that supported a wide range of professions” Professor C. Dyer University of Leicester
  • Depends upon the where and the when it is located.
  • excerpt
  • “Standard definitions of metropolitan areas were first issued in 1949 by the then Bureau of the Budget (predecessor of OMB), under the designation "standard metropolitan area" (SMA). The term was changed to "standard metropolitan statistical area" (SMSA) in 1959, and to "metropolitan statistical area" (MSA) in 1983. The term "metropolitan area" (MA) was adopted in 1990 and referred collectively to metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), consolidated metropolitan statistical areas (CMSAs), and primary metropolitan statistical areas (PMSAs). The term "core based statistical area" (CBSA) became effective in 2000 and refers collectively to metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas.
  • OMB has been responsible for the official metropolitan areas since they were first defined, except for the period 1977 to 1981, when they were the responsibility of the Office of Federal Statistical Policy and Standards, Department of Commerce. The standards for defining metropolitan areas were modified in 1958, 1971, 1975, 1980, 1990, and 2000.
  • Defining Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas
  • The 2000 standards provide that each CBSA must contain at least one urban area of 10,000 or more population. Each metropolitan statistical area must have at least one urbanized area of 50,000 or more inhabitants. Each micropolitan statistical area must have at least one urban cluster of at least 10,000 but less than 50,000 population…”
  • Thank you for clarifying what’s a town, …or a MSA (Micropolitan Statistical Area)… Census Bureau!!!

The Growth of Towns

  • Serfs could now leave for towns
  • (during periods of surplus Population they were encouraged to leave for towns.
  • Town Growth Helped by Decline of Serfdom caused by:
  • Serfs could earn money by
  • selling crops to townspeople.
  • Changing agricultural methods pushed
  • them off the land.
  • The Black Death killed many people in Europe
  • so the demand for workers increased.

I. Trading Centers

  • A. located on important sea routes connecting Europe with Mediterranean Sea, Russia And Scandinavia
  • B. Venice
          • Places to Locate: Venice , Flanders
    • 1. founded in 500s by people fleeing Germans
    • 2. Venetians had to depend on sea for living
    • 3. fished, produced salt from seawater in exchange for wheat, wine, and slaves to Byzantines for fabrics and spices.
    • 4. During 1100s Venice a leading port city
    • 5. Venice’s prosperity spreads to other parts of Italy
    • 6. The navies of Italian trading towns drove the Muslims from the Mediterranean
    • 7. Opened the Near East to Europeans
    • 8. Italian trading towns quarreled and lost much trade to towns along Europe’s Atlantic coast.
  • Maritime Republics of Venice, Genoa, and a handful of others developed their own "empires" in the Mediterranean shores. From the 8th until the 15th century, they held the monopoly of European trade with the Middle East. Venedig is German for Venice as is Genua for Genoa

Run Time: [03:21] Explains how the Venetian ship and merchant industry provided for a link between Europe and the Orient, mentioning the travels of Marco Polo, and the impact of the link on the Renaissance and the Crusades

  • Compiègne—meeting city of trade
  • Law Merchant: the body of customary rules and principles relating to merchants and mercantile transactions and adopted by traders themselves for the purpose of regulating their dealings. Initially, it was administered for the most part in special quasi-judicial courts, such as those of the guilds in Italy and, later, regularly constituted courts in England

I. continued

  • C. Flanders
  • 1. Today part of Belgium
    • 2. raised sheep and produced wool for weaving industry
    • 3. earliest Atlantic trading center
    • 4. build harbors where their rivers met
    • 5. by 1300 the most important trading partner was London
      • a.) relied on English shepherds to supply wool which they turned into cloth which they sold back to England
  • Prior to the rise of Flanders the Hanseatic League controlled most of the trade along Northern Europe.
  • Hanseatic League: mercantile league of medieval German towns. It was amorphous in character; its origin cannot be dated exactly. Originally a Hansa was a company of merchants trading with foreign lands. A major impetus to the league's development was the lack of a powerful German national government to provide security for trade. In order to obtain mutual security, exclusive trading rights, and, wherever possible, trade monopoly, the towns drew closer together.
  • The Hanseatic League declined because it lacked any centralized power with which to withstand the new and more powerful nation-states forming on its borders. The Dutch (Flanders) were growing in mercantile and industrial strength, and in the 15th century they were able to oust German traders from Dutch domestic markets and the North Sea region as a whole. By the mid-16th century, Dutch ships had even won control of the carrying trade from the Baltic to the west, dealing a serious blow to Lübeck. The league died slowly as England contested with the Netherlands for dominance in northern European commerce and Sweden emerged as the chief commercial power in the Baltic Sea region. The Hanseatic League’s diet met for the last time in 1669.

Section Two: tells how merchants became an important part of European life and development and contributed to the growth of burgs.

  • II. Merchants
  • A. Merchants became an important part of European life
  • B. First merchants were adventurers who traveled in groups for protection
  • C. Fairs
    • 1. fairs were sponsored by nobles who collected taxes on sales
    • 2. held once a year for a few weeks at selected places
    • 3. precious metals begin to replace bartering
    • 4. coins of different countries were tested on benches to determine their value. Banc, or bench comes the English word bank
  • The Latin world “feria” meaning holy day was the origin of the word “fair.” Each feria was a day when large numbers of people would assemble for worship. The commerce and trade of the Medieval fairs meant money.  The church took an active part in sponsoring fairs on feast days, and as a result, fairs came to be an important source of revenue for the church. Commerce, by way of the Medieval fairs and religion became closely entwined.
  • With the increased economic activity of the Middle Ages, there was a growing need for money exchange and the conversion of coins. Money changers were soon holding and transferring large sums of money and extending loans to merchants. As the demand increased, so did the number of services. Common financial activities came to include granting loans, investing, as well as most of the deposit, credit and transfer functions of a modern bank. (The Money Lender and his Wife 1514)
  • Market
  • Trade fairs not attended by average person
  • Generally places for sales between merchants
  • For everyday needs, people visited local markets
  • Local markets sold locally-produced goods
  • Times and Locations
  • Trade fairs usually held once a year, specific locations
  • Some trade fairs lasted for months
  • Schedule staggered so merchants could travel from one to another
  • Some merchants spent most of time on road

II. continued

  • D. The Growth of towns
    • 1. Merchants chose places where they can permanently store their goods (wares)
    • 2. chose places along trade routes or road crossings
    • 3. settle close to a castle or monastery
    • 4. surrounded settlements with high stake fences and moats
    • 5. Germans called castle burgs. Towns came to be called burgs because they were often located near castles.
    • 6. Once a week, nobles and peasants sold food for goods they could not make
    • 7. artisans came to find work and bring their families an towns become place people live and not just work or sell

Section Three: describes the living conditions in medieval towns before and after the changes brought about by burghers.

  • III. Living Conditions
    • A. By 1200s towns replace fences with walls and towers
    • B. Crowded unhealthy places with open sewers and narrow streets
    • C. 1300s rats came to Europe on trading ships from the middle east
    • D. Black death kills millions (roughly 1/3rd of the total population)
    • E. People flee to the countryside
  • All residents, whether rich or poor, faced the same general environmental conditions and threats, including the constant fear of sickness and life-threatening diseases. Average life expectancy for all groups was low. Archaeological evidence shows an average adult life expectancy of thirty-five for males and thirty-one for females. England’s infant mortality rate was extremely high.
  • The plague was to visit England at least thirty times between 1348, the year of the Black Death, and 1485. Other common urban diseases included tuberculosis, dysentry and smallpox. As an example, Dartford England’s residents faced famine in 1391 due to an acute shortage of corn. Townspeople were forced to make bread from fern roots; their survival depended on an emergency diet of nuts and apples. All sections of Dartford’s community were economically inter-dependent. If trade slumped or crops failed everybody was affected.
  • Ebgate Lane
  • And…the next
  • thing you know- BOOM you have
  • my old college dorm room
  • Seriously BOOM
  • It was a mess!
  • My college room mate
  • was a real PIG!
  • BOOM
  • BOOM!
  • I hated that GUY!
    • Sorry
    • I had some left over explosives I needed to get rid of.
  • According to today’s standards, the cities that grew up in Europe and the Middle Ages were small and crowded. At times, life in these cities could be very unpleasant.
  • Were narrow, winding
  • Shops, houses lined both sides
  • High buildings blocked sunlight
  • Crowded with people, animals
  • Sanitation bad
  • Streets
  • Made medieval cities dangerous
  • Air hazy with smoke from cooking, tanneries
  • Most buildings made of wood, straw roofs
  • Violence common
  • Fire and Crime
  • Churches, eating halls, markets
  • Guilds provided plays, public entertainment, and festivals
  • Sports common
  • Guilds competed against each other
  • Some Benefits
  • Daily Life in Cities
  • Stocks are devices used in the medieval times as a form of physical punishment involving public humiliation. The stocks partially immobilized its victims and they were often exposed in a public place such as the site of a market to the scorn of those who passed by. Since the purpose was to punish offenders against the standards of conduct of the time, anybody could assault, revile or aim filth at the victim.
  • The Gibbet
  • Gibbeting was common law punishment, which a judge could impose in addition to execution. This practice was regularized in England by the Murder Act 1752, which empowered judges to impose this for murder. It was most often used for traitors, murderers, highwaymen, pirates, and sheep-stealers, and was intended to discourage others from committing similar offences. The structures were therefore often placed next to public highways (frequently at crossroads) and waterways. There are many places named Gibbet Hill in England.
  • Late Medieval Town Dwellings
  • Marketplace of
  • Tubingen, Germany
  • Village houses in
  • Kellerei, Germany
  • A timber-framed house is one whose substantial timbers are joined to form an open rigid frame which supports the roof. With box frame construction there are additional posts and rails that form the frame of the wall, the intervening spaces (infilling) being filled with (often light-weight) material to provide weather-proofing.
  • Medieval Homes
  • Medieval city homes between the rich and poor differed little from the outside, each being made of the same stone brought in from nearby quarries. But the inside accommodations were far more telling. A poor family might be cramped into one room, faring little better than peasants in the country, while rich "burger" families might occupy four floors, from cellar to attic, complete with servant quarters.
  • Comfort was not always easy to find, even in the wealthiest of households. Heating was always a problem with stone floors, ceiling and walls. Little light came in from narrow windows, and oil and fat-based candles often produced a pungent aroma. Furniture consisted of wooden benches, long tables, cupboards and pantries. Linen, when afforded, might be glued or nailed to benches to provide some comfort. Beds, though made of the softest materials, were often rife with bedbugs, lice and other biting insects. Some tried to counter this by tucking in sheets at nighttime in hopes of smothering the pests, while others rubbed oily liniments on their skin before retiring.

The Medieval Game of Life


Medieval School—London

  • Could you stand
  • the beatings?
  • Shopping Spree?

III. Continued

  • F. Burgher Life
    • 1. at first merchants, artisans and workers who lived in towns were all called burghers. Later the title burgher was used to refer to the rich merchants
    • 2. day starts with prayers at dawn
    • 3. meets with business partners
    • 4. burgher’s wife kept house, managed servants and cared for children
    • 5. two large meals a day
  • G. Changing Ways
    • 1. Under feudal system land was owned by kings and nobles who taxed the people in the towns
    • 2. Nobles viewed the rise of towns as a threat to their power and the people of the towns resented the many feudal laws
    • 3. Church against towns as they feared profit making would take people away from religion
    • 4. Burghers had wealth and power and depend less on nobles and bishops
      • a.) work together to build schools, hospitals and churches
  • Although generally not aristocrats or nobles, medieval burghers enjoyed a special legal and economic status because they were citizens of a particular town. To become a citizen in many medieval towns, a person had to be male or born into a citizen family, reside in the city a certain number of years, be engaged in a respectable business, pay a substantial entry fee, and have other citizens vouch for his character. By no means was every resident of a medieval city a citizen, and the exact percentage varied from place to place. Moreover, although their status might not be documented officially, burghers were often a special class of citizen. Generally the most prosperous, prestigious, and politically influential citizens, urban burghers dominated their towns, becoming almost urban lords.

III. continued

  • H. Communes and Charters
    • 1. 1100s towns in northern Italy form political groups called communes (examplesVenice, Milan, Genoa, Pisa, Florence, Siena)
        • a.) purpose to work against nobles and church to gain self-government
    • 2. Some kings and nobles gave towns people charters charter allowing them to run their own affairs.
    • 3. elect officials to run their towns
    • 4. set up courts and punish criminals
  • Siena.
  • I, William, by the grace of God, Count of Flanders, not wishing to reject the petition of the citizens of St. Omer---especially as they have willingly received my petition about the consulate of Flanders, and because they have always been honest and faithful to me---grant them the laws written below, and command that those laws remain inviolate.
  • First that to every man I will show peace, and I will protect and defend them with good will just as I do my other men. And I grant that justice be done to all of them by my bailiffs, and I wish that they do justice to me also. I grant liberty to my bailiffs such as my other bailiffs have. 26 items followed
  • William Clito, Count of Flanders: Charter for Town of St. Omer, 1127

Section Four: focuses on the rise of craft guilds, explaining why they were formed and why they were later opposed

  • IV. The Rise of Guilds
  • A. 1100s , merchants artisans and workers form guilds to make sure their members were treated fairly
  • B. Craft guilds controlled the work of artisans.
  • C. Guild members were not allowed to compete or advertise.
    • 1. worked same hours, hire same number of workers and paid same wages
    • 2. Guilds controlled all business and trade in a town
    • 3. decided fair price for a product or service
    • 4. guild members who sold a substandard good could be fined
    • 5. Guilds provided food to members who became too ill to work and provided other services. The main interest of the medieval guild was to protect their members!
  • A baker caught trying to cheat customers is punished by being dragged around the community on a sleigh with the offending loaf of bread tied around his neck.
  • Crest of a Cooper’s Guild
  • Medieval Trade

IV. Cont.

  • D. Job Training
    • 1. Apprentice for two to seven years
    • 2. taught by masters
    • 3. journeyman was paid daily wages and worked under a master
    • 4. created a masterpiece and passed a test to become a master
    • 5. by 1400 many merchants and artisans begin to challenge the guilds.

Section Five: discusses the cultural changes that took place to European civilization during the 1400s, focusing on advances in education, art, and literature

  • V. Cultural Changes
    • A. During the 1400s merchants, artisans and bankers became more important than they had been in the past and their growing power led to the decline of feudalism
    • B. Many towns people were richer than the nobles
    • C. Townspeople had more leisure time and money to spend
    • D. Hired private teachers
    • E. Sons went to universities to study law, religion and medicine.
    • F. Most townspeople used languages like German, French and English
    • G. Dante writes the Divine Comedy in Italian
    • H. Geoffrey Chaucer writes the Canterbury Tales in English
    • I. Townspeople begin to think they should be free to
    • develop their talents and improve their way of life.
    • J. Want a strong central government to provide leadership
    • and protection
    • Fini! (Adjective finished; through; at an end)
    • Origin: Fr
  • Death mask of Dante Alighieri ?
  • The Divine Comedy is composed of over 14,000 lines that are divided into three parts— Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory), and Paradiso (Paradise) — each consisting of 33 cantos.
  • The poem is written in the first person, and tells of Dante's journey through the three realms of the dead, lasting from the night before Good Friday to the Wednesday after Easter in the spring of 1300. The Roman poet Virgil guides him through Hell and Purgatory; Beatrice, Dante's ideal woman, guides him through Heaven. Beatrice was a Florentine woman whom he had met in childhood and admired from afar in the mode of the then-fashionable courtly love tradition which is highlighted in Dante's earlier work La Vita Nuova.
  • Dante shown holding a copy of the Divine Comedy, next to the entrance to Hell, the seven terraces of Mount Purgatory and the city of Florence, with the spheres of Heaven above, in Michelino's fresco.
  • The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories written in Middle-English by Geoffrey Chaucer at the end of the 14th century. The tales are told as part of a story-telling contest by a group of pilgrims as they travel together on a journey from Southwark to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. It is a towering achievement of Western culture. He uses the tales and the descriptions of the characters to paint an ironic and critical portrait of English society at the time, and particularly of the Church.

And so… to Summarize Medieval Towns:

  • 1. Town life was distinct from country life; the two were separate, though interdependent, worlds. There were many manifestations of rural life in the city: gardens, herds of livestock, even farms within the city walls. Yet townsmen saw themselves as distinct from country folk, and country folk viewed the cities with suspicion and envy.
  • 2. Towns were much smaller than what we're used to in industrialized societies. Most towns were only a few thousand people. Even the big cities can be measured in the tens of thousands, while a mere handful reached one or two hundred thousand. Paris, Milan, Naples, Venice, and not much more, and even then only in the 1200s and 1300s. After 1350, the plague greatly reduced the size of the big cities. The largest city on the continent of Europe was Constantinople, with about 400,000.
  • 3. A town could be, and often was, defined legally in the Middle Ages. From around 1100 or so, towns started to get charters from a bishop, a great lord, or a king. The charters varied greatly, but commonly authorized the town to form its own city council and to regulate certain aspects of city life. Thus the towns after that period had a legal identity within society and before the law, much the same way a modern corporation does.
  • Citizenship
  • 4. Those who were citizens formed perhaps half the population, though sometimes they were as little as 10 or 15 percent. The citizenry were the skilled tradesmen and the merchants, the economic lifeblood of the city. Citizenship was generally only inherited, but it could be granted to individuals or to families, usually as a recognition for some extraordinary service to the city. By the later Middle Ages, guild membership and citizenship went hand in hand. In Florence, for example, membership in a guild was a requirement of citizenship.
  • 5. Everyone knew who the citizens were, for they annually swore an oath of loyalty to the city. They would gather in one of the city plazas, often in front of the town hall, and there repeat the oath out loud, for everyone to see. This served the double purpose of binding the citizens and of letting everyone else see who were recognized as citizens.
  • 6. Citizenship brought privileges but also brought obligations. They were required to serve in fire brigades and street patrols. In times of war they manned the walls and served in the city militia. Only citizens had to pay taxes. On the other hand, they were legally protected and often could only be tried in the town courts.
  • 7. The citizens were the real caretakers of the city's prestige and reputation, ethics and the common weal.
  • Outsiders
  • 8. Among those who were usually not citizens were the clergy. Though they were still privileged and prestigious members of the community. The nobility were sometimes allowed to be citizens, sometimes were required (in Italy) to be citizens, and sometimes were forbidden citizenship.
  • 9. Others who were not allowed to be citizens were the Jews. They were tolerated usually, persecuted sometimes, but the Jewish communities often fulfilled necessary functions.
  • 10. And then there were, the people without honor. These included the hangman, gravediggers, and prostitutes. These were all recognized and legitimate professions, but they were socially repugnant and these people were never allowed to be citizens.

Rights and Privileges

  • 11. Personal freedom was vitally important to anyone who lived in a town and was widely regarded as an essential element of town life. A townsman had to be free from the obligations that bound a peasant, and must be free also from the arbitrary taxation to which a peasant was subject. A merchant, moreover, must be free to move from place to place, while a villein had no right to leave his lord's land.
  • 12. The city itself, as a corporation, had freedom too. The city flourished best when free from feudal lords, though some cities were ruled by bishops or barons. Even so, cities needed to manage their own legal affairs and their own fiscal affairs.
  • 13. The political history of many cities in the 1100s and 1200s is dominated by their struggles with their feudal overlords, bishop or baron. The final product was often a charter of liberties that spelled out the exemptions and rights the city, and its citizens, would enjoy.
  • 14. Cities often bought their freedom by paying their lord for a charter of liberties. Later, as the profits of urban centers became apparent, lords encouraged the founding of cities by granting privileges to some settlement whose growth he hoped to encourage.
  • 15. The charter usually stipulated that everyone living in the town would be free. A widespread custom was that anyone who lived in the town for a year and a day would become free. The Germans had a saying: Stadtluft macht frei: "city air makes one free", a saying that illustrates the role played by towns in this regard.
  • 16. Other elements of city charters might include: Landholding was to be by lease and rent, not by feudal tenure. Freedom from taxation was achieved by fixing limits to what the lord would levy. Freedom from tolls on bridges in the lord's lands; freedom from sales taxes levied by the lord on his other subjects; freedom from the lord's courts -- a burger could be tried only in the courts of his home town; right to their own merchant courts (these were commercial courts, but were sometimes given jurisdiction over low justice).
  • 17. There was a bewildering variety to town governments, yet there were common elements. Most had some sort of chief executive. His powers might vary widely, but some such office as Mayor (from the Latin maior which simply means "greater") existed in nearly every town. The Mayor—by whatever title—might be elected or appointed, but it was unusual to find no such office at all.
  • 18. There was normally one or more councils, and these were vital. A Mayor might be a powerful figure or merely a figurehead (as the Doge was in Venice) but real power always lay with the city councils.
  • 19. Cities tended to have multiple councils, but most commonly you would find a Great Council and a Small Council. The Great Council might consist of hundreds of members, met rarely as an entire body, and really served as a kind of pool from which were drawn the members of the Small Council plus members of a myriad of standing committees that actually got most of the work done. The Small Council comprised of only a few members (six or ten or so). This Council made many of the tough decisions, including deciding matters of alliances, treaties, war, and so on.
  • 20. Much of the day to day administration of a town was done by committee. Medieval towns tended to spawn committees for just about everything, and much of the detailed politics of a town centered around control of these.
  • 21. One of the more unexpected aspects of medieval town government was their election process. Many elections were by lot: candidates had their names put in a hat (the mechanics of this varied) and six names or fifty names or whatever were drawn from it. Elections were very rarely run the way we mean, with the citizens stating their choice; and they were never done in secret ballot, which is a modern invention.
  • 22. Terms of office were extremely short: a year, six months, even two months. Since the election of a new council was a matter of picking names by lot, it could be done quickly. The idea was to leave no one person in power for too long. Medieval towns were obsessed by a fear of demagogues.

Essay Question Chapter 26

  • During the 1000s and 1100s in western Europe, there were more births than deaths. Why was this an important development at that time? In the world today, there are also more births than deaths. Is this still a positive pattern? Why or why not?

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